Asako tolerated him, faute de mieux. Cousin Sadako was becoming tired of their system of mutual instruction, as she tired sooner or later of everything.
She had developed a romantic interest in one of the pet students, whom the Fujinami kept as an advertisement and a bodyguard. He was a pale youth with long greasy hair, spectacles and more gold in his teeth than he had ever placed in his waist-band. Popriety forbade any actual conversation with Sadako; but there was an interchange of letters almost every day, long subjective letters describing states of mind and high ideals, punctuated with shadowy Japanese poems and with quotations from the Bible, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Bergson, Eucken, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Smiles.
Sadako told her cousin that the young man was a genius, and would one day be Professor of Literature at the Imperial University.
THE REAL SHINTO
Yo no naka wo Nani ni tatoyemu? Asa-borake Kogi-yuku fune no Ato no shira-nami.
To what shall I compare
To the white wake behind
A ship that has rowed away
When the autumn came and the maple trees turned scarlet, the men returned from their long summer holidays. After that Asako’s lot became heavier than ever.
“What is this talk of tall beds and special cooking?” said Mr. Fujinami Gentaro. “The girl is a Japanese. She must live like a Japanese and be proud of it.”
So Asako had to sleep on the floor alongside her cousin Sadako in one of the downstairs rooms. Her last possession, her privacy, was taken away from her. The soft mattresses which formed the native bed, were not uncomfortable; but Asako discarded at once the wooden pillow, which every Japanese woman fits into the nape of her neck, so as to prevent her elaborate coiffure becoming disarranged. As a result, her head was always untidy, a fact upon which her relatives commented.
“She does not look like a great foreign lady now,” said Mrs. Shidzuye, the mistress of the house. “She looks like osandon (a rough kitchen maid) from a country inn.”
The other women tittered.
One day the old woman of Akabo arrived. Her hair was quite white like spun glass, and her waxen face was wrinkled like a relief map. Her body was bent double like a lobster; and her eyes were dim with cataracts. Cousin Sadako said with awe that she was over a hundred years old.
Asako had to submit to the indignity of allowing this dessicated hag to pass her fumbling hands all over her body, pinching her and prodding her. The old woman smelt horribly of daikon (pickled horse-radish). Furthermore the terrified girl had to answer a battery of questions as to her personal habits and her former marital relations. In return, she learned a number of curious facts about herself,